Why Atari’s New Console Could Be Just What The Gaming Industry Needs

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Yesterday, I reported on the recent GamesBeat interview with Atari CEO Fred Chesnais, a chat that confirmed the existence of an upcoming Atari console. The news came as a bit of a surprise, and since that break, speculation has been running wild. Forbes’ own Paul Tassi posted an interesting take on the whole situation, and honestly, I think he makes a great point—the market is indeed full, and introducing a brand new platform, especially one potentially poised to take on those of industry giants like Sony and Microsoft, may be an exercise in overzealous futility. And yet I can’t sit still, so break out the one-button joysticks and dusty Combat cartridges—we’re going to play devil’s advocate.

Even with everything seemingly stacked against such a machine (and there’s a lot, believe me), I still can’t manage to shake my naive excitement. I’ve been gaming for a long time, since the late 80s if I’m counting right, so the prospect of a legitimate Atari revival has set my imagination on fire. I know they’re not even close to the same company that released the 2600 and the Jaguar (or the criminally underappreciated Lynx handheld), but I feel like the potential for something compelling lay not only within this recent hardware announcement, but also amongst the remnant echos of Atari’s yesteryear 8-bit greatness. Before the infamous video game market crash of 1983, they all but owned the digital entertainment market, so who’s to say that they can’t stage a screaming comeback?

The deck is, without a doubt, stacked against such an impromptu market breach. Why? Because as it stands, Sony and Microsoft are in a constant and incredibly expensive battle for console market dominance. And while Nintendo occupies some strange, PG-rated corner of said market, one filled with jovial plumbers, wacky hardware innovation and awful online implementation, they absolutely dominate that space with consistently good first-party titles and an insane degree of consumer loyalty. When paring out the market shares, precious space for an additional dedicated gaming hardware option shrinks to almost nothing. And for the most part, it’s been this way since Sega bowed out of the race back in 2001 with its legendary Dreamcast. So beyond mobile devices and PC, we have three major options for gaming platforms. But what if people want more? What if they’re eager to try something different but lack the opportunity to jump ship?

Believe it or not, there was a time in gaming history when we did have more options. Way more, in fact. Back in the 1990s, all over the span of roughly ten years, the gaming market saw the introduction of a crazy amount of original, completely unique home consoles. Some were weird. Others ludicrously bizarre. Many were quirky experiments that only lasted several months before disappearing forever. Huge mainstream successes like the SNES and N64 were simply the machines that bubbled to the top. For every PlayStation sold there was an Apple Pippin left to forlornly rot on a lonely Circuit City shelf, ignored and forgotten by the gaming masses.

There was Panasonic’s 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, which introduced Gex—and an insane MSRP—to the world. Sega released the Sega CD and 32X, the bulky combination of which made for quite the conversation piece (and a heavy means by which you could defend your house from lions and swooping pterodactyls). And oh God, the Virtual Boy, which didn’t even last a full year before Nintendo pulled the plug. Still, that’s just the tip of the hardware iceberg: CD-i, Amiga CD32, Saturn, and Neo Geo CD are all among the onslaught of consoles that ran the gamut from world-changing to painfully obscure. The failure rate was high, though through all the pricey risks, gamers had choices. Sure, many of them weren’t the best and absolutely didn’t pan out in the long-term, but we weren’t strictly relegated to two or three major sources for our gaming needs. There was a power in that pool of options, and if we wanted to game on a Pioneer LaserActive, we could (though we might cry about it during, after and later).

If Atari’s new product ends up being a proper console with properly powerful innards, it could bring back that sense of choice, something that’s sorely missing from today’s market. Just imagine if they were able to entice several AAA developers and secure a handful of compelling exclusives; Ataribox-only titles you couldn’t find on Xbox, PlayStation or Switch. At the very least, it would make for an interesting 2018 E3, or at least one more exciting than this year’s ho-hum showing.

Oftentimes I’m struck by how homogeneous the gaming industry has become, so I think a gutsy newcomer (in the form of a wise old-timer) would do well to stir up the pot. We need something less, shall we say, predictable. And if the product is solid enough, if it bucks enough trends and pushes the right boundaries, customers may shock analysts and wander outside the comfortable camps that Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have set up.

It’s all just speculation at this stage, of course, but it’s fun to wonder. I just hope it’s nothing like the Ouya, bless its tiny Android heart.

[Source”GSmerena”]

Why evolution is better than revolution in product design

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Digital products will always need to be redesigned. Styles progress, hardware technologies advance, and development possibilities are ever-increasing. Just in the past year the potential for implementing microinteractions, and processor-intensive animations and graphics, has come along at a fair pace. Product teams are continuously looking to iterate and stay ahead of or pass the competition. This is ever important in furthering the design and development industries, and delivering to the consumer the very best product available.

The process of redesigning is not always so straightforward. There are times when teams and individuals have to decide whether to redesign from the ground up, or iterate on the current product. In this article we are going to look at both options and analyze just why redesigning from scratch should be avoided in the majority of cases.

REDESIGNING FROM SCRATCH

To begin, redesigning from scratch should not always be avoided. On occasion, a company can inherit a product simply for the user base, domain name, or because they see the potential to completely re-engineer the product from the ground up, into something completely different.

One example of a product that completely redesigned from the ground up is Bebo. What was once a fast-growing social network has since become multiple new products as a result of complete redesigns. In its latest relaunch, it has been developed into a messaging app, somewhat reminiscent of Slack.

The issue with redesigning from scratch, is you pose the risk of alienating users. In certain cases, the product can have such underperforming design and UX, that it leaves this as the only appropriate course of action. The issue is when products are redesigned for little reason other than for change for its own sake.

It’s important to ask two questions when pondering this decision:

  • Does my vision for the product clash considerably with the current design and framework?
  • Is the current product posing multiple substantial design and UX issues for users?

If the answer to either is yes, then this may well be the most appropriate course.

If you believe a redesign may cause a loss of users, answering yes to either should override any worries you have of this being the case. Sometimes, and only sometimes, a small proportion of the existing user base who are entirely opposed to change has to be discounted in order to move the product forward. You just have to be sure you are truly moving the product forward with a complete redesign—there has to be clear underlying reasons such as above.

REDESIGNING IN ITERATIONS

For most cases, this should be the route to take. By continuously iterating on a product, you avoid alienating the current user base by by slowly but surely introducing new UI and UX enhancements with each version. This is a lot easier to digest for users, and typically helps avoid having them move to competitors. It also allows for the removal of a feature if proven not to be effective or useful for new and existing users.

Redesigning in iterations can also often result in the best possible product. When you are constantly redesigning from the ground up, it eliminates the positive effects of stepwise refinement.

Take Google’s core search product, for example. I’d argue they have never redesigned completely, and instead continuously iterated over multiple decades. With Google, they have an incredibly complex product, but a simple interface, and have iterated upon this in small steps to the point now where the product is extremely refined, powerful, and easy to use.

Another such example is InVision. A few years ago, they could have completely wiped the design which was looking tired and outdated. Instead of building something new with the latest short-term style trends, they chose to iterate on the current version one step at a time with the outlook of creating one of the finest design industry tools. All the while, they kept existing users satisfied by not overhauling every feature and layout.

In the above examples, you can see just how the product has progressed from something very dated, to a cutting-edge, industry leading product design—all through continuous iterating on the features, layout, and styles.

This approach also excludes the issue of overhauling a design every time the design team or lead is changed. It provides a consistent approach over long periods of time, and avoids individual designs and styles making their mark at the users’ expense.

Next time you are working on a design, ask yourself: should I really redesign this product from scratch, or can we achieve better long-term results with stepwise refinement?

 

 

[Source:- webdesignerdepot]

Teenage Bollywood actor faces vicious social media abuse and no one knows why

She’s 16, talented, newly famous. And unfortunately, facing vile abuse on social media.

Zaira Wasim, the young actor who dazzled audiences with her flawless debut in Dangal — India’s highest-grossing film ever — posted an inexplicable “confession/apology” on Facebook last night.

And then, she deleted it in no time.

Not before screenshots had been taken though.

Her note reeks of fear and coercion. And sadly, submission too. She says she is “sorry for what I did” and wants to “make it very clear that I do not want anyone to follow in my foot steps or even consider me as a role model.”

What has she “done”? No one knows. Yet.

But there’s enough conjecture.

Going by the comments surfacing on social media, she’s either being bullied for meeting Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister (CM) Mehbooba Mufti or being criticized for her supposedly “un-Islamic” act of joining films.

Scores of abusive comments have flooded her Facebook page.

However, there’s a silver lining. Almost.

The hate comments have been outnumbered by the empathetic ones. All sections of Indian society from politicians and media-persons to film personalities and sportsmen, and of course, the masses have come out in loud support of the Kashmiri actor.

Noted among them is a comment from former Jammu & Kashmir CM and Mufti’s political rival, Omar Abdullah.

 

 

[Source:- Mashable]

 

Here’s Why Titanfall 2 Is Coming to PS4

Here’s Why Titanfall 2 Is Coming to PS4

Respawn Entertainment CEO and co-founder Vince Zampella reveals why Titanfall 2 is coming to PS4, despite the original Titanfall being exclusive to PC and Xbox consoles.

Released on PC, Xbox 360, and Xbox One in 2014, many PlayStation players were disappointed that Respawn Entertainment’s highly anticipated shooter, Titanfall, did not come to Sony platforms, too. In fact, even the development team was surprised to learn that Titanfall 1 wouldn’t be released on PlayStation, and that it wasn’t just a timed-exclusive for Microsoft.

With the sequel, there will be no such disappointments or shocks, however, as Titanfall 2 is coming to PC, PS4, and Xbox One. In a new interview, Respawn Entertainment’s CEO and co-founder, Vince Zampella, has now revealed exactly why Titanfall 2 is coming to PS4 as opposed to opting to continue the Microsoft exclusivity deal.

Speaking to the Official PlayStation Magazine UK (issue #126, September 2016), Zampella explains that “ultimately, it’s about bringing in as many people as possible to play the game.” The Respawn boss goes on to say that “we spent years of our lives making these things, so we want as many people as possible to see them. It makes sense.” Moreover, the developer wants a playerbase so that “games are more fun and more balanced, we want to get better games going” and that “it’s bringing things to the world that people enjoy, so the more the merrier.”

This isn’t the first time that Zampella has suggested that Respawn’s decisions are “all about the fans,” as the CEO previously revealed that Titanfall 2 DLC will be free because the developer doesn’t want to split the community. That announcement was largely applauded by gamers at the time, especially as other multiplayer titles such as Evolve have been accused to fracturing the playerbase with DLC plans that were confusing and muddling to players rather than encouraging them to play.

Others, though, have dismissed Zampella’s comments, saying that what he really means is that he’d like to increase Respawn (and Titanfall 2 publisher) EA’s bottom line. The original Titanfall was a massive success, with the first-person shooter seeing a whopping 7 million unique players after just 8 months of availability. Some sceptical gamers argue that as Xbox One sales continue to trail behind the PS4 despite Microsoft price cuts, Respawn and EA see the Sony console as a lost, money-making opportunity that the two companies are looking to bank on with Titanfall 2.

And, while it’s certainly true that Titanfall 2 is likely to outdo its predecessor’s sales because of it multi-platform status, other additions such as Titanfall 2’s new ‘Ronin’ class and Respawn’s commitment to Titanfall 2 server stability could also make a huge difference in how many copies are sold.

 

[Source: Gamerant]

Why Microsoft won’t hit 1 billion Windows 10 installs

Why Microsoft won't hit 1 billion Windows 10 installs

At last year’s Build conference, Windows and devices chief Terry Myerson announced one of those “bold ambitions” that Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella is so fond of: “Within two to three years of Windows 10’s release, there will be 1 billion devices running Windows 10”.

That wouldn’t be just upgrades or even new PC sales; it would include Surface Hub, Xbox One, the upcoming HoloLens and Windows Mobile phones

Shifting goalposts

Talking to investors when Microsoft announced its most recent financial results, Nadella pointed out that Windows 10 has had the fastest adoption rate of any version of Windows (helped no doubt, by the free upgrade offer), but admitted “given changes to our phone plan, we’ve changed how we will assess progress”. Microsoft will now report not just how many devices have Windows 10 installed, but in active use, and 2018 is no longer the target.

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that to TechRadar. “Windows 10 is off to the hottest start in history with over 350 million monthly active devices, with record customer satisfaction and engagement. We’re pleased with our progress to date, but due to the focusing of our phone hardware business, it will take longer than FY18 for us to reach our goal of one billion monthly active devices. In the year ahead, we are excited about usage growth coming from commercial deployments and new devices – and increasing customer delight with Windows.”

 

 

Surface Hub was delayed for some months. It took longer than expected to ramp up the brand new factory Microsoft was building in Portland, but they’re shipping now. Xbox One sales dropped in Microsoft’s most recent financial results, but it’s already announced theXbox One S and Project Scorpio.

HoloLens isn’t on sale yet, but businesses as well as gamers are interested in the promise of mixed reality. But having taken a long, hard look at the smartphone market and the rise of local phone makers in China and India who are taking share from Apple and Samsung alike, Microsoft seems to have decided not to compete in the budget smartphone market where the bulk of device sales are made.

With no new phones from Microsoft so far this year (and only a few new models from the OEMs Microsoft is now relying on), phone revenue in their latest financial results was down 71%, and sales have dropped 57% from the previous year.

Microsoft seems to be doing better at bringing Office 365 to iOS and Android than on shifting its own mobile devices.

It’s not that Microsoft is abandoning phones entirely; Terry Myerson confirmed at Build this year that Microsoft is “fully committed” to phones and plans to “do some cool things with phones” but for 2016, they’re important but they’re not the focus that PCs and Xbox and HoloLens are, because they’re not the right place to reach a lot of customers.

The anniversary update to Windows 10 Mobile certainly improves the platform, but it still has a number of rough edges (the previously impressive shape-writing keyboard and Wi-Fi have both been problematic in recent builds).

Bigger in business

Until those new cool things come along, where Windows Mobile is most likely to prove popular is with large businesses like BT, Telefonica and Delta who want to buy phones that they can run the same apps on that they’re building for Windows 10. That’s a reasonable market, but it’s not the same as the huge consumer market for phones.

IDC analyst and VP Al Gillen agrees that phone sales are an issue. “Without a meaningful contribution from Windows Phone, Microsoft won’t get to one billion Windows 10 devices until 2019 or 2020. We project the total to be at about 700 million units by the end of Microsoft’s Fiscal Year 2018, when the company had hoped to get to one billion.”

But it’s not quite such bad news for Microsoft as it might sound. While the shift to smartphones and tablets that we’ve been seeing for several years continues, PC sales are also higher than was predicted (and sales no longer include PCs that qualify for the Bing promotions Microsoft had been using to reduce Windows licence prices). Fewer PCs are being sold, but the drop is less than IDC expected; between April and June 2016, 62.4 million PCs were sold worldwide.

 

 

[Source: Techrader]

Why Microsoft is waving the magic Wand

microsoft ceo satya nadella

Clean off the information that Microsoft is purchasing LinkedIn for $26.2B, the famed Redmond monolith has introduced they are additionally snapping up the so-called fb of things employer Wand Labs. It’s a move that makes ideal sense if you have ever used a telephone and hooked up extra than a handful of apps.

things are becoming a piece out of manage, particularly with apps that manipulate devices in your house like a sprinkler device or the the front door lock. each one is a small island in a sizable ocean, and they don’t truly talk with every other. It’s one purpose there’s been a upward thrust of voice-activated assistants and chatbots. There’s an excessive amount of clutter.
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Wand is still in improvement so i can’t provide you with a firsthand account from checking out out their app, but from all of the presentations and substances they have online, it seems a piece like a dashboard. allow’s say you’ve got Spotify in your cellphone and also you begin a talk with the Wand messaging purchaser. you can then supply access in your buddy that allows you to listen to the identical tunes. The gain is that your pal doesn’t even want a Spotify account to pay attention. in case you’re chatting about a celebration that night, you may also provide a login to the door lock using the Vivint app. The possibilities are countless.

Of path, for this to paintings, 1/3 celebration builders need to companion with Wand, and that’s wherein Microsoft can absolutely assist. The app may never see the mild of day, but we ought to see the app integration in some thing like Bing or the Cortana app. The termfacebook of things” is a nod to the concept that we’re all seeking to simplify by means of the use of chat. consider it this way. whilst you need to talk about an occasion or make plans for the weekend, few people leap into an app. We just text our brother-in-law and start discussing what to do. inside the equal manner, messaging apps may be used for conversational interfaces. you may be discussing music, films, or your backyard and decide to cause an event or offer get right of entry to to a friend to trigger an occasion.

Take this a step in addition if it includes robot tech and AI. in the end, conversational interfaces will involve manner greater automations. You is probably talking about the rain, and the chatbot within the messaging app or in Bing would possibly ask if you want to postpone watering. you could be talking about going a film, and a bot could remind you approximately a flow you in no way completed. Bots could grow to be a part of the conversation, but for that to take place, apps like Iris (for controlling the sprinklers) and Netflix (for watching the film) might need to be included.

The facebook of things certainly approach social interplay and era intersecting in a manner this is so fluid we slightly notice. It’s simply a part of our everyday chat, every other thread in the dialogue, a textual content publish that looks like Twitter however has manner more energy.

I’m excited to see what Microsoft comes up with, perhaps at the same time as lots as what they’ll do once they pump greater gas into the LinkedIn engine. Apps are on overload right now. The combination of chatbots, robot tech, messaging, and 1/3birthday party integration can be a big win for a organisation that seems so stuck in the world of desktop operating structures. but, before this all comes together, apps like Cortana and Bing need to offer greater cost on their personal earlier than they begin integrating with Spotify.

Why Uncharted and Dark Souls Coming to an End is a Good Thing

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As the Uncharted and Dark Souls franchises finish up this year with Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Dark Souls 3, respectively, one Game Rant writer looks at why this a good thing.

When I got my hands on Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception on launch day, I fully expected to it to be my game of the year. To my surprise, I thought Uncharted 3 was underwhelming at best, and I found myself rushing through Nathan Drake’s latest adventure, just so I could get back to the world of Skyrim. Spending a few hours with Nathan Drake and his shenanigans is enough in one sitting, but the Naughty Dog development team spent 2005 to 2011 focusing on nothing but Uncharted. Even the most overzealous Uncharted fan would get tired of coming up with new adventures for Nate, Sully, and Elena after six intense years, and this sense of burn out seeped into Uncharted 3.

It may have been ‘only’ the third game, but it was immediately clear that Uncharted 3 had already settled into some kind of established formula: Nate gets wind of a treasure, set-piece, ropes Sully and Elena into it, overcomes tremendous physical and emotional stress in getting the treasure, set-piece, and everyone reconciles at the end. If I felt a sense of groundhog day with Uncharted 3, I can’t imagine what the Naughty Dog team must have been feeling while making the game. So when Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was announced, all I could muster up was a simple “why?”.

Naughty Dog seemed rejuvenated after embarking on a brand new creative endeavor with thecritically-acclaimed The Last of Us, and while I understand the whole thing about sales and fan demand, Naughty Dog has generally developed its games from a creative rather than a commercial standpoint (though there’s never been a problem with sales). It just seemed like the studio was ready to move on, and Uncharted 4 seemed like a step sideways to me. When Naughty Dog announced that Uncharted 4 will be the final game in the series, fans understandably reacted with disappointment, but I thought it was the best decision the studio could’ve made.

uncharted-4-goes-gold

The Last of Us‘s success proved that there was no need for Naughty Dog to go back to Uncharted‘s pool of diminishing creative returns, and the studio is smart enough to know full well that Nathan Drake’s story can’t go on indefinitely without compromising the quality. So rather than drag Uncharted out akin to the way most big-name developers do with hit franchises, Naughty Dog has gone the other way by taking all the lessons learned from The Last of Us and effectively setting upon Uncharted 4 in a similar manner to how The Beatles approached their final record: go out with a bang. And you know what? I’m perfectly fine with that.

Based on the awesome gameplay footage I’ve seen so far, Uncharted 4 is shaping up quite nicely indeed, despite all the behind-the-scenes drama.

But beyond concluding Uncharted on its own terms, this is also a chance for Naughty Dog to try its hand at something new. Seeing as how the studio has always come back strong with a new IP after spending time with a franchise – I mean, there’s Jak & Daxter, Uncharted and The Last of Us – there’s no reason to think why it wouldn’t happen again. I’m as excited as anyone for The Last of Us 2, but I’m even more excited to see what new IP Naughty Dog can come up with. Admittedly, a small part of me will be sad to say good bye to Uncharted when May rolls around, but this feels like the start of a new phase for Naughty Dog, and I have no doubt that the studio can create a new gamethat’s on par with some of its best work.

It’s not all about Nathan Drake’s final adventure though. Most of what I’ve said about Uncharted and Naughty Dog is also applicable to Dark Souls, another franchise that’s on a similar trajectory to Uncharted‘s.

dark-souls-3-world-record-speedrun

Whereas Uncharted was all about the characters and the set-pieces, the fandom behind FromSoftware’s Dark Souls has primarily revolved around its crushingly-difficult gameplay. While FromSoftware hasn’t exactly been pumping out Dark Souls games comparable to what Activision does with Call of Duty, it’s worthwhile to note that the developer has put out three Dark Souls games in the span of just five years. Dark Souls hasn’t reached its “jumping the shark” moment just yet, but as I was wandering around some random forest or decaying fortress in Dark Souls 2 and killing (or getting killed by) some annoying Manikins, there was a sense of deja-vu as it just felt like I’ve seen it all before. Seeing as how Call of Duty quickly got stale, there was a worry that FromSoftware’s “difficult-gameplay” mechanic was going to run its course, but, thankfully, my worries were immediately wiped away when FromSoftware released the brilliant Bloodborne.

Just as how Naughty Dog took a risk on The Last of Us, FromSoftware took a big risk on Bloodborne and it paid off critically and commercially. But beyond all that acclaim, Bloodborne was evidence that FromSoftware could have its cake and eat it too. Fans got a new setting and some more of that renowned challenging gameplay, and FromSoftware got to demonstrate that not only can it still deliver what fans want, but it can do much more than just make absurdly-hard games. Just as how The Last of Us proved that there’s life after Uncharted for Naughty Dog, Bloodborne showed that FromSoftware will be perfectly fine without Dark Souls. While no Dark Souls game has yet to disappoint me like what Uncharted 3 did, I was just as glad when FromSoftware announced that Dark Souls was ending this year, as this meant that I – and many others – won’t have to witness the inevitable decline of the franchise should it have continued. And based on how good Dark Souls 3 is, it seems like FromSoftware has delivered the perfect ending on what’s occasionally been a frustratingly-entertaining series.

Video gaming is riding a wave of creativity at the moment, thanks to some innovative indie titles likeThe Witness and the upcoming No Man’s Sky, as well as some new hugely successful triple-A titleslike Quantum Break and The Division. While I don’t expect Naughty Dog to suddenly start makingspace-exploration epics, or FromSoftware to suddenly start crafting atmospheric puzzle games, I believe the time is right for both studios to move on from its established IP, and set about shaking up the gaming world with something new once again.

 

[Source:- Gamerant]

Why the internet isn’t making us smarter – and how to fight back

Why the internet isn't making us smarter – and how to fight back

In the hours since I first sat down to write this piece, my laptop tells me the National Basketball Association has had to deny that it threatened to cancel its 2017 All-Star Game over a new anti-LGBT law in North Carolina – a story repeated by many news sources including the Associated Press. The authenticity of that viral video of a bear chasing a female snowboarder in Japan has been called into question. And, no, Ted Cruz is not married to his third cousin. It’s just one among an onslaught of half-truths and even pants-on-fire lies coming as we rev up for the 2016 American election season.

The longer I study human psychology, the more impressed I am with the rich tapestry of knowledge each of us owns. We each have a brainy weave of facts, figures, rules and stories that allows us to address an astonishing range of everyday challenges. Contemporary research celebrates just how vast, organized, interconnected and durable that knowledge base is.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that our brains overdo it. Not only do they store helpful and essential information, they are also receptive to false belief and misinformation.

Just in biology alone, many people believe that spinach is a good source of iron (sorry, Popeye), that we use less than 10 percent of our brains (no, it’s too energy-guzzling to allow that), and that some people suffer hypersensitivity to electromagnetic radiation (for which there is no scientific evidence).

But here’s the more concerning news. Our access to information, both good and bad, has only increased as our fingertips have gotten into the act. With computer keyboards and smartphones, we now have access to an Internet containing a vast store of information much bigger than any individual brain can carry – and that’s not always a good thing.

Better access doesn’t mean better information

This access to the Internet’s far reaches should permit us to be smarter and better informed. People certainly assume it. A recent Yale study showed that Internet access causes people to hold inflated, illusory impressions of just how smart and well-informed they are.

But there’s a twofold problem with the Internet that compromises its limitless promise.

First, just like our brains, it is receptive to misinformation. In fact, the World Economic Forum lists “massive digital misinformation” as a main threat to society. A survey of 50 “weight loss” websites found that only three provided sound diet advice. Another of roughly 150 YouTube videos about vaccination found that only half explicitly supported the procedure.

Rumor-mongers, politicians, vested interests, a sensationalizing media and people with intellectual axes to grind all inject false information into the Internet.

So do a lot of well-intentioned but misinformed people. In fact, a study published in the January 2016 Proceedings of National Academy of Science documented just how quickly dubious conspiracy theories spread across the Internet. Specifically, the researchers compared how quickly these rumors spread across Facebook relative to stories on scientific discoveries. Both conspiracy theories and scientific news spread quickly, with the majority of diffusion via Facebook for both types of stories happening within a day.

Making matters worse, misinformation is hard to distinguish from accurate fact. It often has the exact look and feel as the truth. In a series of studies Elanor Williams, Justin Kruger and I published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2013, we asked students to solve problems in intuitive physics, logic and finance. Those who consistently relied on false facts or principles – and thus gave the exact same wrong answer to every problem – expressed just as much confidence in their conclusions as those who answered every single problem right.

For example, those who always thought a ball would continue to follow a curved path after rolling out of a bent tube (not true) were virtually as certain as people who knew the right answer (the ball follows a straight path).

Defend yourself

So, how so we separate Internet truth from the false?

First, don’t assume misinformation is obviously distinguishable from true information. Be careful. If the matter is important, perhaps you can start your search with the Internet; just don’t end there. Consult and consider other sources of authority. There is a reason why your doctor suffered medical school, why your financial advisor studied to gain that license.

Second, don’t do what conspiracy theorists did in the Facebook study. They readily spread stories that already fit their worldview. As such, they practiced confirmation bias, giving credence to evidence supporting what they already believed. As a consequence, the conspiracy theories they endorsed burrowed themselves into like-minded Facebook communities who rarely questioned their authenticity.

Instead, be a skeptic. Psychological research shows that groups designating one or two of its members to play devil’s advocates – questioning whatever conclusion the group is leaning toward – make for better-reasoned decisions of greater quality.

If no one else is around, it pays to be your own devil’s advocate. Don’t just believe what the Internet has to say; question it. Practice a disconfirmation bias. If you’re looking up medical information about a health problem, don’t stop at the first diagnosis that looks right. Search for alternative possibilities.

Seeking evidence to the contrary

In addition, look for ways in which that diagnosis might be wrong. Research shows that “considering the opposite” – actively asking how a conclusion might be wrong – is a valuable exercise for reducing unwarranted faith in a conclusion.

After all, you should listen to Mark Twain, who, according to a dozen different websites, warned us, “Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.”

Wise words, except a little more investigation reveals more detailed and researched sources with evidence that it wasn’t Mark Twain, but German physician Markus Herz who said them. I’m not surprised; in my Internet experience, I’ve learned to be wary of Twain quotes (Will Rogers, too). He was a brilliant wit, but he gets much too much credit for quotable quips.

Misinformation and true information often look awfully alike. The key to an informed life may not require gathering information as much as it does challenging the ideas you already have or have recently encountered. This may be an unpleasant task, and an unending one, but it is the best way to ensure that your brainy intellectual tapestry sports only true colors.

[Source:- Phys.org]

Why Uncharted and Dark Souls Coming to an End is a Good Thing

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As the Uncharted and Dark Souls franchises finish up this year with Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Dark Souls 3, respectively, one Game Rant writer looks at why this a good thing.

When I got my hands on Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception on launch day, I fully expected to it to be my game of the year. To my surprise, I thought Uncharted 3 was underwhelming at best, and I found myself rushing through Nathan Drake’s latest adventure, just so I could get back to the world of Skyrim. Spending a few hours with Nathan Drake and his shenanigans is enough in one sitting, but the Naughty Dog development team spent 2005 to 2011 focusing on nothing but Uncharted. Even the most overzealous Uncharted fan would get tired of coming up with new adventures for Nate, Sully, and Elena after six intense years, and this sense of burn out seeped into Uncharted 3.

It may have been ‘only’ the third game, but it was immediately clear that Uncharted 3 had already settled into some kind of established formula: Nate gets wind of a treasure, set-piece, ropes Sully and Elena into it, overcomes tremendous physical and emotional stress in getting the treasure, set-piece, and everyone reconciles at the end. If I felt a sense of groundhog day with Uncharted 3, I can’t imagine what the Naughty Dog team must have been feeling while making the game. So when Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was announced, all I could muster up was a simple “why?”.

Naughty Dog seemed rejuvenated after embarking on a brand new creative endeavor with thecritically-acclaimed The Last of Us, and while I understand the whole thing about sales and fan demand, Naughty Dog has generally developed its games from a creative rather than a commercial standpoint (though there’s never been a problem with sales). It just seemed like the studio was ready to move on, and Uncharted 4 seemed like a step sideways to me. When Naughty Dog announced that Uncharted 4 will be the final game in the series, fans understandably reacted with disappointment, but I thought it was the best decision the studio could’ve made.

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The Last of Us‘s success proved that there was no need for Naughty Dog to go back to Uncharted‘s pool of diminishing creative returns, and the studio is smart enough to know full well that Nathan Drake’s story can’t go on indefinitely without compromising the quality. So rather than drag Uncharted out akin to the way most big-name developers do with hit franchises, Naughty Dog has gone the other way by taking all the lessons learned from The Last of Us and effectively setting upon Uncharted 4 in a similar manner to how The Beatles approached their final record: go out with a bang. And you know what? I’m perfectly fine with that.

Based on the awesome gameplay footage I’ve seen so far, Uncharted 4 is shaping up quite nicely indeed, despite all the behind-the-scenes drama.

But beyond concluding Uncharted on its own terms, this is also a chance for Naughty Dog to try its hand at something new. Seeing as how the studio has always come back strong with a new IP after spending time with a franchise – I mean, there’s Jak & Daxter, Uncharted and The Last of Us – there’s no reason to think why it wouldn’t happen again. I’m as excited as anyone for The Last of Us 2, but I’m even more excited to see what new IP Naughty Dog can come up with. Admittedly, a small part of me will be sad to say good bye to Uncharted when May rolls around, but this feels like the start of a new phase for Naughty Dog, and I have no doubt that the studio can create a new gamethat’s on par with some of its best work.

It’s not all about Nathan Drake’s final adventure though. Most of what I’ve said about Uncharted and Naughty Dog is also applicable to Dark Souls, another franchise that’s on a similar trajectory to Uncharted‘s.

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Whereas Uncharted was all about the characters and the set-pieces, the fandom behind FromSoftware’s Dark Souls has primarily revolved around its crushingly-difficult gameplay. While FromSoftware hasn’t exactly been pumping out Dark Souls games comparable to what Activision does with Call of Duty, it’s worthwhile to note that the developer has put out three Dark Souls games in the span of just five years. Dark Souls hasn’t reached its “jumping the shark” moment just yet, but as I was wandering around some random forest or decaying fortress in Dark Souls 2 and killing (or getting killed by) some annoying Manikins, there was a sense of deja-vu as it just felt like I’ve seen it all before. Seeing as how Call of Duty quickly got stale, there was a worry that FromSoftware’s “difficult-gameplay” mechanic was going to run its course, but, thankfully, my worries were immediately wiped away when FromSoftware released the brilliant Bloodborne.

Just as how Naughty Dog took a risk on The Last of Us, FromSoftware took a big risk on Bloodborne and it paid off critically and commercially. But beyond all that acclaim, Bloodborne was evidence that FromSoftware could have its cake and eat it too. Fans got a new setting and some more of that renowned challenging gameplay, and FromSoftware got to demonstrate that not only can it still deliver what fans want, but it can do much more than just make absurdly-hard games. Just as how The Last of Us proved that there’s life after Uncharted for Naughty Dog, Bloodborne showed that FromSoftware will be perfectly fine without Dark Souls. While no Dark Souls game has yet to disappoint me like what Uncharted 3 did, I was just as glad when FromSoftware announced that Dark Souls was ending this year, as this meant that I – and many others – won’t have to witness the inevitable decline of the franchise should it have continued. And based on how good Dark Souls 3 is, it seems like FromSoftware has delivered the perfect ending on what’s occasionally been a frustratingly-entertaining series.

Video gaming is riding a wave of creativity at the moment, thanks to some innovative indie titles likeThe Witness and the upcoming No Man’s Sky, as well as some new hugely successful triple-A titleslike Quantum Break and The Division. While I don’t expect Naughty Dog to suddenly start makingspace-exploration epics, or FromSoftware to suddenly start crafting atmospheric puzzle games, I believe the time is right for both studios to move on from its established IP, and set about shaking up the gaming world with something new once again.

 

[Source:- Gamerant]

Phil Spencer explains why Halo 5 probably won’t come to PC

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It’s a positive thing that Microsoft wants to bring some of its first-party Xbox exclusives to PC, but one awkward question remains to be answered: where is Halo 5? During a media Q&A at Microsoft’s //Build/ 2016 conference today, Phil Spencer addressed that very question, while attempting to explain why some games will remain exclusive to particular platforms.

Spencer declined to state that “all” Microsoft published games will hit both platforms. Instead, games will release for Xbox or Windows 10 depending on their suitability for either platform. Using RTS Ashes of the Singularity as an example, Spencer implied that it’s not a great fit for console, even though Xbox One will get mouse and keyboard support down the line.

“If I enable keyboard and mouse on a console – which we will do – and then you download [Ashes of the Singularity] and you’re playing on a monitor, is that a PC game or a console game? I get out of saying ‘all,’ because I think there are games that people want to play in front of their monitor with a keyboard and mouse, and I want to be somebody that builds those games.”

There are games that Spencer believes work fine on both platforms: he cited Forza 6 as an example, and Quantum Break and Rise of the Tomb Raider are clearly other examples. He doesn’t want to make release parity across those platforms a rule, though. “I don’t want to make it some kind of artificial mandate, because then I think we end up with ‘Frankengames’, games that really weren’t meant for a certain platform. And because some suit said, ‘Hey, everything’s gotta run on both platforms’, you end up with something people don’t want.

“You should expect it when franchises look like they belong on both platforms, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a mandate for the studios because it’s not.”

That’s all well and good, but where’s Halo 5? Spencer returned to his Frankengame analogy, explaining that Halo 5 was designed from the beginning to release for consoles. On the other hand, Halo Wars 2 was developed with both Xbox and PC in mind, and Spencer cited that as a reason for its success on both platforms. “In terms of Halo FPS on PC, I think there’s a ton of opportunity for us right now, but I don’t want to get into a world where we’re looking back, like at Halo 5. It doesn’t mean there’s nothing there that could ever end up on PC, but I’d much rather look forward with what our plans are.”

It’s not a thoroughly convincing answer – Forza 6 is coming to PC after all, albeit as a free-to-play variant – but it does serve to quell any excitement that we might get Halo 5 on PC in the near future.

 

[Source:- PCgamer]